Jubilant scenes, warm hugs and handshakes by hundreds of scientists and employees of the Indian Space Research Organisation marked the launch of the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-D2 from Sriharikota on Thursday evening.
Everyone huddled in the auditorium of the ISRO headquarters in Bangalore, where a giant screen was placed to beam the images of the final proceedings.
Those maintaining communication with the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota and links with other ISRO offices across the country were also glued to the television sets in their cabins.
As the countdown began, there was silence and tension in the auditorium. When the launch took place on the dot [16:58 IST] and the spacecraft soared into the azure blue sky, relief was palpable on everyone's face.
"In the absence of a live telecast by Doordarshan, we had arranged to relay the GSLV-D2 launch on our space channel through virtual private networks," a beaming ISRO official told rediff.com later.
When the launch vehicle and the experimental satellite [GSAT-2] separated around 16:62 minutes after the takeoff, ISRO Chairman K Kasturirangan addressed the staff and termed the entire programme a grand success.
"It is one of the most memorable moment; a major milestone for ISRO and a proud technological achievement. My hearty congratulations to all the space scientists, engineers, technicians and others involved in the GSLV-D2project," he said.
ComplimentingRussian scientists for supplying the cryogenic engine used in the third stage of the launch vehicle, Kasturirangan said their yeomen contribution once again demonstrated the spirit of cooperation between the two countries.
"We have really hit the bull's eye today as all flight commands and manoeuvres performed with precision, and the 1.8tonne satellite was successfully injected in the geo-synchronous transfer orbit at a perigee of 180km and a apogee of 36,000kmfrom the earth," the ISRO chief said.
Earlier, the four liquid propellant strap-onstages were fired first on the launch pad. Then, 4.8 seconds after the lift-off, the solid propellant core stage was ignited to make the spacecraft reach an altitude of 69km in around 4:23 minutes.
Subsequently, the liquid propulsion second stage was also fired to separate the payload, which was at a distance of 115-131km. After soaring up to 198km,the spacecraft and the equipment bay were separated to acquire the injection velocity for its final entry into the transfer orbit.
"A C-band transponder on the vehicle helped in tracking the entire process from ground-basedradars. The complete telemetry and tracking of the GSLV-D2 from lift-off to its satellite injection into the transfer orbit has been monitored by four ground stations at Sriharikota, and the down range stations at Port Blair, Brunei and Biak in Indonesia," an ISRO official said.